The Canadian Press
Apr 17, 2012
A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release findings Wednesday that a “remarkable” increase of quakes in the U.S. midcontinent since 2001 is “almost certainly” the result of oil and gas production. (Reuters)
Two separate studies are providing insights into the earth-shaking consequences of the controversial gas extraction process known as fracking.
Both studies confirm that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can trigger manmade earthquakes. The process involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture rock to obtain oil and natural gas.
Energy companies are increasingly using the technique across Canada, where there is already regular seismic activity and an ever looming threat of various sized tremors.
The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release its findings Wednesday that a “remarkable” increase of quakes in the U.S. midcontinent since 2001 is “almost certainly” the result of oil and gas production.
U.K. experts, meanwhile, point to a study released Monday that found recent earthquakes in northwest England were caused by fluid injection into a nearby fault zone as evidence fracking can be safe when conducted by responsible operators.
The consultants’ report, commissioned by the U.K. government and published on Tuesday recommends that fracking should be halted temporarily if there is a tremor greater than magnitude 0.5 on the Richter scale. Cuadrilla Resources, a company that halted its fracking activities in northwestern England following tremors of magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5 in April and May last year, has said that is acceptable.
Opposition to fracking has ramped up since the release of the 2010 documentary “Gasland,” which shows residents of small town Colorado setting alight tap water they charge was soured by nearby oil industry activity.
- Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes? (motherjones.com)